Harvey was born on May 23, 1943, in Philadelphia, PA, to Emanuel Rich and Mildred Blieden Rich. He was named for his maternal grandfather, Harvey Blieden. When I asked Harvey in 2020 if he knew who he was named after, this was his reply:
The story I remember from my dad was that my grandfather, who came from Romania, I believe, was going through immigration (at Ellis Island?) and told them that his name was Bacchus. The agent said something to the effect of “what kind of name is that, you’re name is Rich now.” I have no idea of the truth of this, but I like it. The god of wine in Roman folklore of course, is named Bacchus. Hence my wine collecting must have been preordained in some manner, don’t you think?
Harvey was correct in that it makes fro a good story, however, no names were changed at Ellis Island. People took new names once in the New World, but no one forced them to. *
Harvey’s father, Manny, was in the Army and they moved around for a few years before settling down in Stuyvesant Town on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
In a letter to her brother, Arthur, dated August 17, 1944, Mildred describes in “delicious” detail what Harvey is like. You also get an inkling into Grandma Gussie’s relationship with her new grandson. The envelope shows they were living in Wildwood, NJ. Here is an exerpt from the letter:
. . . Who can tell – even miracles can happen. No kidding Mama actually fed Harvey his dinner twice since being out here. See – miracles do happen – so quiet and let’s see.
Anyway, wait till you see my snippin, pippin. If you think your old lady’s going to rave about him, you’ll rave even more. Yop, I’m telling you. He’s all that and much more. Everyone around here is crazy about him. I can’t tell you – you’d just have to live with him to understand. He’s good and happy and sweet, laughs and sings and dances all day long and is bright as a lark. Since Mam’s been here, he’s taken to trying to talk. He says “bo” for button, “sh” for shoes, “d” for his duck, “sha” for his shovel, “b” for bread and “Ba-ba” for a little cousin here called Barbara. All this has happened in two weeks – Mama came at a wonderful time to watch this latest development. As for understanding, one can almost hold a conversation with him.
He’s nice to look at, pretty, has a lovely built body, sturdy, far from thin, well covered with fat, but to me and everyone else not a “fat baby”. And the little fat he has is no surprising because he’s such an active baby. No exaggeration at all, I don’t believe I’ve ever watched a baby who moved around so much. He never sits down, unless I coral him and stick him in his high chair.
Etc, etc, an infimum or ad nauseum, whichever it may mean to you this ranting on.
Anyway, you want it, I’m crazy about him – and he is not a spoiled child – one of the least spoiled I’ve ever seen – I don’t care what anyone says – babies may be born good – but they stay that way only with the help of the parents attention.
Well, tootsie – write immediately and let me know about mom.
Love, Mildred, Harvey, Spur & Mama
In August of 1947, Harvey’s sister, Alice, arrived.
Harvey recalled that he worked for his uncle, Bernard Blieden, one summer when he was about 16. This is his memory in his words:
. . . . I worked for your dad during one summer when he was the owner of
Twinkle TownTogs. I was a courier and did other various jobs around
the company. As a courier, I carried both messages to other
companies and clothing lines back and forth. Actually, other than
trivial things, such as the layout of the working floor space,
punching the clock and songs on the radio that summer, I don’t really
recall much about my job. However, you might also be interested to
know that my dad working with your dad for 3 or 4 years (that is how
long I think it was) in the company, until he departed. I have no
reason to know the real reason why my dad left, but gather there was
some incompatibility. I needed working papers to work the job then
so, along with my other summer jobs, I think that makes my 16 when I worked there, which would have made it the summer of 1959. . .
PS. One thing I do remember about Twinkle Town Togs is that I was told back then that JC Penney was the biggest customer of their clothing line.
Harvey graduated from Stuyvesant High School. It was known for its stringent admission policy and was difficult to get into.
Stuyvestant HS photo by By Wikiweeki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=106677882.
Harvey had 7 younger first cousins and they all adored him and couldn’t wait for him to visit them. Some teased him by trying to touch his hair. He liked his hair to be “perfect”!
After high school, Harvey attend Alfred University in upstate New York where he was a physics major. It is because he attended Alfred that his cousin, Tara, met her future husband.
After graduating from Alfred, he went on Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, intending to get a Ph. D. in physics. However, after some time in that program, he developed new interests and switched over to sociology. He had to go back and start with undergraduate class but in four years, he had his Ph. D. in sociology.
In 1972, Harvey went on to become a professor of sociology at California State University at Northridge (CSUN).
In 1969, Harvey visited his cousins, Tara and Stan, while they lived in Milwaukee. They had fun showing him around.
He met his first wife, Pamela Jolicoeur at Purdue. They were married in West Layfatte, Indiana, on January 23, 1971.
Besides his mother, his aunts and uncles flew out to attend the wedding.
After completing their Ph, D,’s, they moved out to California where Pam was originally from. They settled in Thousand Oaks because it was easy for both of them to commute to their respective universities.
Harvey and Pam welcomed their daughter, Jessica, to the world on February 16, 1979.
Harvey travelled east almost every year to see his mother and always visited with his cousins. Once again, a visit from Harvey generated much excitement and anticipation.
During these years, he had a keen interest in photography and developed his own photos in a dark room that he created in his garage.
When Jessica was about 10, Harvey and Pam divorced but shared custody and remained friends.
After his divorce, he met Magnhild Lien, a professor of mathematics at Cal State, Northridge.
Because Magnild is from Norway, she and Harvey, along with Jessica travelled there almost every summer to visit her family.
Often they extended their stay and took side trips to other parts of Europe.
His mother, Mildred, died on May 11, 1999, in New York, New York, at the age of 83. The next year the cousins gathered once again for her unveiling at Mavra’s house in Pequonnock, NJ.
Harvey and Magnild were officially married on January 17, 2006
On July 2, 2006, they held a celebration in to honor their marriage.
Besides coming out East, Harvey and Magnhild were wonderful hosts at their home in CA and welcomed their cousins to come and visit and stay. Below are just a fews examples of their hospitality.
Harvey and Magnhild loved to travel and over the years they travelled across the globe. They had some exciting and wonderous adventures.
Some misc. pictures from the last few years:
Two of Harvey’s passions were his Tesla and his wine collections.
Harvey died on March 11, 2022. Below is his obituary written by his wife, Magnhild, and his daughter, Jessica. It describes beautifully a life well-lived and a man loved by so many.
Harvey Eric Rich, 78 (May 20, 1943 – March 11, 2022), was the beloved husband of Magnhild Lien, loving father of Jessica Rich, and dedicated brother to Alice Rich.
Born in Philadelphia, PA to Emanuel Rich and Mildred Blieden Rich, Harvey spent his childhood growing up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in Stuyvesant Town. He graduated from the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, and he earned his bachelor’s degree from Alfred University in upstate New York, majoring in physics.
Harvey had an abiding love for learning that led him to pursue multiple graduate degrees in different fields. He started out pursuing a Physics Ph.D. at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, entering the program in 1965. However, Harvey’s interest in physics faded as the Vietnam War escalated, replaced by a passion for social justice. Harvey followed his new intellectual passion by applying to Purdue’s Ph.D. program in Sociology, despite never having taken a course in the subject area. He was accepted into the program with the caveat that he first take an undergraduate sociology class, which he did while he completed his Physics master’s degree (obtained in 1968). Four years later, Harvey graduated from Purdue University with a Ph.D. in Sociology.
In 1972, Harvey went on to become a professor of sociology at California State University at Northridge (CSUN), where he stayed for his entire career.
Harvey became increasingly concerned with environmental issues in the 1980s. Again, Harvey followed his passion through careful study—and in 1982, while still working full-time at CSUN, he entered UCLA’s doctoral program in Environmental Science and Engineering (D. Env). Toward the end of the program, he took a year and a half leave from CSUN to complete an internship as an environmental scientist at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). In 1987, he achieved ABD (all but dissertation) status, after having completed his coursework, passed his qualifying exams, and successfully defended his dissertation prospectus. Ultimately, Harvey chose not to complete the dissertation—ready to return to his job at CSUN and arguing he had gotten what he wanted from the program.
In addition to teaching and conducting research, Harvey was actively involved as a leader at his university and in professional associations. He served as Chair of the Sociology department for six and a half years. One of his legacies as department chair was to build community among Sociology majors by establishing an annual department honors dinner, where students were recognized for their achievements with their families in attendance. Harvey was actively involved with the California Sociological Association (CSA) since its creation in 1990, serving for many years as a member of the Governing Council and as its president from 2002 to 2003. Harvey was also a member of the Governing Council of the Pacific Sociological Association (PSA).
Harvey was a proud father of Jessica and loved his daughter dearly. He was not shy about telling family and friends of her many talents and accomplishments as she grew from a little girl to a successful university professor who followed in her parents’ footsteps with a degree in the social sciences. He cherished the professional conversations they had as she grew older.
He pursued his passions outside of academia with just as much enthusiasm as his intellectual pursuits. Harvey enjoyed cycling, and for many years he would go on long bike rides every Saturday morning with his wife and the Conejo Valley Cyclists (CVC). Harvey was also an avid wine collector, and he amassed a sprawling collection that was carefully recorded on pencil and paper. Harvey’s indecipherable writing added to the adventure of finding his old wines.
Harvey loved to travel. Every two years he would visit his wife’s family in Norway, and Harvey made sure they used each trip to see a new part of Europe as well. By the time of his passing, he had travelled throughout Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and Oceania, and he was starting to plan post-Covid travel adventures. Harvey and his wife loved to collect pieces of art on their journeys, and their home is known for its museum-like quality—filled with unique sculptures, paintings, and other art objects.
He was also an early and ardent fan of electric cars. He championed their ability to fight climate change and loved his Tesla model 3. His wife and daughter joked about his ability to turn any conversation into a discussion about Tesla.
Harvey was known for his dry wit, and his caring and tolerant nature. He built a loving community of friends and family during his fifty years in California, while keeping in touch with his family on the East Coast. In 2008, Harvey and his wife purchased a retirement home in Portland, Oregon, and at the time of his passing they were transitioning toward living there full time.
In addition to his wife, daughter, and sister, Harvey is already missed by his many cousins and friends.
- The Ellis Island Name Change Myth